Routines are how families organise themselves, spend time together and have fun. Every family has its own unique routines. Family life is often smoother with a few routines. Routines also let your children know what’s important to your family. Routines can help strengthen your shared beliefs and values, and build a sense of belonging and togetherness in your family.
Benefits for Children
Safety and belonging
An organised and predictable home environment helps children feel safe, secure and looked after; particularly in stressful times or during difficult stages of development.
Skills and responsibility
Having chores to do in family routines helps children and teenagers develop a sense of responsibility and some basic skills like the ability to manage time. These are skills children can use for life.
And when children can do their parts of the routine with less help or supervision from you, it also helps them become more independent.
Routines can be a way of teaching younger children healthy habits, like brushing their teeth, taking medicine regularly, getting some exercise, or washing their hands after using the toilet.
This means that routines can be good for children’s health. For example, children who wash their hands more regularly might be less likely to get colds and other common illnesses. Also, routines can reduce stress, and lower stress is good for children’s immune systems.
Daily routines help set our body clocks too. For example, bedtime routines help children’s bodies ‘know’ when it’s time to sleep. This can be a big help when children reach adolescence and their body clocks start to change.
Benefits for Parents
Eliminate power struggles
Routines eliminate power struggles because you aren’t bossing your child around. This activity (brushing teeth, napping, turning off the TV to come to dinner) is just what we do at this time of day. The parent stops being the bad guy, and nagging is greatly reduced.
Connect with less stress
Routines help you get through your daily tasks and free up time for other things. Regular and consistent routines can help you feel like you’re doing a good job as a parent. When life is busy, routines can help you feel more organised and in control, which lowers stress.
If everything is a fight, parents end up settling: more TV, skip brushing teeth for tonight, etc. With a routine, parents are more likely to stick to healthy expectations for everyone in the family, because that’s just the way we do things in our household. The result: a family with healthy habits, where everything runs more smoothly!
What makes a good routine?
There are no rules about how many or what kind of routines you should have. All families are different, and what works well for one family might not work for another.
Your routines need to be based on your individual family needs. But effective routines do share three key features:
In a good routine, everyone understands their roles, knows what they need to do and sees their roles as reasonable and fair. For example, your children know that they take turns with washing up and drying up each night after dinner.
Good routines become part of everyday family life. For example, you might all look forward to Sunday night barbecues with your children’s grandparents.
In a good routine, things happen in the same order each time. For example, you always wash school uniforms on the weekend, so you know they’ll be ready for Monday morning.